Since The Passion of the Christ was released I have been waiting to hear from Rick Warren to learn about Saddleback’s involvement with this movie. On Tuesday Christianity Today published an article where he describes just that. You can read the article here.
There are a lot of things I would love to say about this article, but to do so would not be constructive. I wish to point out only two things that grabbed my attention.
First, Warren bases this article on his thesis for The Purpose Driven Church. He says that Christian leaders are called to ride spiritual waves, gives no basis for how to discern a wave generated by God from one generated by Satan, and then says we are never to criticize a wave. His only proof for the validity of the wave he helped his church catch is the numbers - the results - of jumping on it. There is no mention of how he knew this was God’s will for his church. Though I do agree entirely that we need to ride the waves generated by God, it is critical that we use discernment to ensure we do not jump on waves that are not generated by God. It is dangerous to assume that everything is God’s will. Though much of what Warren say may be good, it is what he does not say that concerns me here.
Second, I was shocked to read that the church sponsored a VIP premiere showing, to which they invited only the elite guests – those with prestigious jobs and those with loads of money. What a terrible testimony to the world this is! What happened to the equality of the rich and the poor, those with status and those without?
Kay and I personally invited over a thousand lost community leaders of Orange County to a VIP premiere showing, including every mayor, congressman, superintendent of schools, other community leaders, and four billionaires, most of whom I’d never met.
This really strikes me as distinctly anti-Scriptural. To segregate the elite from the rest goes directly against Jesus’ teaching. This sort of elitism really offends me!
Saddleback Church is on the far corner of the continent from where I live and what they do would matter very little to me, except that Warren is the most influential pastor in the world at this time and thousands of other churches imitate his every move. I am certain we will see many other churches following his lead and sponsoring VIP nights for their local elite. Thousands of others are already riding various waves, including this movie, without considering their origins.
Regardless, I rejoice that so many people have made commitments to God through their programs. I sincerely hope those people follow through with their commitments and become dedicating, reproducing followers of Christ.
Incidentally, though I am not a great fan of Brian McLaren, his article from the previous week raises some interesting points and is worth reading.